We are now in the heart of the college football season. The best college football players in the country are starting to put themselves on the map ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft. It was a bit of a lackluster week in college with only two games of ranked opponents. It did have some exciting moments, however. Troy, yes Troy, knocked off LSU. It’s probably time Ed Orgeron gets fired but that’s a story for another day.
It’s important to note that the player should let themselves define who they are. Buying into false media hype too soon is what leads to prospects becoming eventual busts (you will see where I’m going with this).
The MVP for this week, however, is Bryce Love of Stanford. Love became the first back this year to tackle the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season. Christian McCaffrey? Well, he really hasn’t been missed thanks to how marvelous Love has been.
Has there been a more impressive RB so far this season than Stanford RB Bryce Love? pic.twitter.com/nYkOUd27O4
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) October 3, 2017
On tap for this week includes USC Vs. Washington State, South Florida Vs. East Carolina, and Georgia Vs. Tennessee. Who stood out for better or worse as we start to get closer to the 2018 NFL Draft?
USC Vs. Washington State
Who are the quarterbacks that have struggled the most thus far this NFL season? Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, and Philip Rivers are some of the names that come to mind. What do they all have in common? They are the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. The NFL has gone through a changing of the guard.
Offensive line play is worse than it’s ever been. With less practice time orchestrated in the CBA, the offensive lines have been at all all-time low. The new era of quarterbacks will require mobility. We have seen that already this year as Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, and Deshaun Watson looks like the future elite talent at the position. What I wanted to do this week is focus on just how mobile Sam Darnold is. Remember, don’t look at just the stat line. The tools you see are the most important thing to study.
Darnold actually played linebacker in high school and has extreme toughness for the quarterback position. Darnold may not be the fastest quarterback, but he can make a defender miss and even broke some tackles. The USC signal caller was harassed behind a poor offensive line that was missing their starting left tackle, right guard, and right tackle. Check out what Darnold brings to the table from a mobility standpoint.
Despite the ugly loss, I thought Darnold played pretty well considering what he had to go up against. The fact that he can extend plays and create when nothing is there puts him ahead of the rest of the pack so far. We’ve seen in previous weeks how great his arm is as well. The biggest question everyone is wondering right now is whether he will stay in school for another year?
There were some other standouts I want to mention quickly in that game as well. Ronald Jones, Uchenna Nwosu, and Hercules Mata’afa also had their draft stocks take a bump in the right direction. Jones ripped off an 86 yard rushing touchdown which can be seen below. He has first-round talent with the best pure speed of any draft-eligible running back.
Nwosu has some athleticism to him making a crazy interception. The downside to him was he didn’t create a much pass rush off the edge. He also had a really poor pursuit in the run game. The number of snaps that USC defense had to play could have played a part in that.
Hercules Mata’afa was Washington State’s best player but is a mystery at this point. You don’t see a lot of 260-pound nose tackles in the NFL. Let me rephrase, you don’t see any. It was even stranger to see USC fail at double teaming him. Mata’afa showed great technique and won the hand fighting battle at the point of attack. The question is what position does he play in the NFL? Maybe Washington State has to play him at nose tackle to hide his flaws?
SPOILER ALERT: Washington State's Hercules Mata'afa is very good at football. pic.twitter.com/CsxBlBd5rN
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) October 2, 2017
South Florida Vs. East Carolina
I love draft tends. The past few years, ECU has had two NFL wide receivers in Justin Hardy and Zay Jones. This year, Davon Grayson has taken the throne as the go-to target. Grayson hauled in 5 catches for 101 yards. ECU runs the Air Raid, Vertical passing game system which results in those big plays. East Carolina doesn’t have a great quarterback but Grayson has made due. Grayson is 6-foot-2, 180, with good speed. The thing that was the most impressive was his ability to win 50-50 balls. By the way, South Florida has two NFL corners.
Grayson did his damage against Deatrick Nicols, one of USF’s talented corners. The other side of the field occupied by Mazzi Wilkins didn’t captivate much success. Wilkins deflected 4 passes during the game. Quarterbacks are only completing an absurd 3.9 quarterback rating when targeting Wilkins on the season. Wilkins fits the new trend of the long corners with good athleticism.
*Also make sure to keep an eye on Quinton Flowers. The South Florida quarterback is a great athlete but probably doesn’t have much of a shot to make it as a signal caller in the pros. I will be very interested to see if he can turn into a running back or wide receiver. Some have failed at this conversation but Terrell Pryor is one that succeeded. Flowers carved the East Carolina defense with 93 yards rushing on the ground.
*Last but not least, Georgia vs. Tennessee. The Vols head coach Butch Jones is literally sitting on fire. That’s how hot his seat is right now. I turned this game off rather quickly given the fact that it wound up being 41-0. Let me give Roquan Smith and J.R. Reed a shout out real quick. They have been Georgia’s best defensive players so far. Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia are littered with NFL caliber defensive players. Pick your poisen on any given week who to scout.